Maintaining a healthy weight as you age

Though it may be harder to do as you age, maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Whether you've spent most of your life in good shape but find yourself putting on the pounds or are trying, now, to get out from under a long-term struggle with being overweight, finding your healthy weight is critical to protecting your overall health. Gaining weight or being overweight can have harmful effects on your overall health. Being underweight, too, can also pose challenges to your health as you age. If you haven't paid attention to your weight throughout the years, you'll definitely want to start doing so now.

Maintaining a healthy weight at this stage of your life can help lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Adding exercise to the menu can improve bone density, balance and flexibility, build muscle tone, and relieve joint pain. It can even improve your sexual health. Whether you need to eat more or less, or move more, knowing what you need can start you down the path of feeling better.

Eating healthy

Has your appetite decreased with age? This is typical, but you should know that even as you eat less, you still need the same level of nutrients. Eating less, then, means that making well-informed, nutrient-rich choices is even more important. Fresh fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of fiber and vitamins that you can't get from supplements. Whole grains, such as whole-wheat bread, brown rice and quinoa, can be found at any supermarket or grocery store. Round out these staples with lean meats, fish rich in omega-3s and low-fat dairy, and you're well on your way to a balanced diet.

What is a healthy weight range?

A simple way to know if your weight is healthy is to determine your body mass index, or BMI. BMI is the measure of your weight in relation to your height. To calculate your BMI, use this simple calculation: BMI = weight ÷ height in inches ÷ height in inches again × 703*. Or use our BMI calculator. A healthy BMI is considered anything between 18.5 and 24.9. Find your BMI below and see what range you fall into.

BMI ranges

Underweight Less than 18.5
Normal 18.5 to 24.9
Overweight 25 to 29.9
Obese 30 to 39.9
Morbidly obese 40 and greater


*This formula is for adults only; children's BMI is calculated differently.

Resources

If you need help losing weight or learning how to maintain a healthy weight, check out our weight management classes for members in the Portland metro area. If you live outside the Portland metropolitan area, learn how to be reimbursed for weight management classes in your area.

For more information, check out Providence Health & Services Weight Management Resource Center or talk with your health care provider to work on a personalized plan. You can also browse A How-to Guide for Older Adults, a publication of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.